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What are the Different Treatments for an Infected Nose Piercing?

By James Carew
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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After ear piercings, nasal piercings are the second most common type of piercing and as such, an infected nose piercing is a common cause of concern. As with all aspects of body modification, prevention is better than the cure, so good hygienic aftercare should be absolutely paramount. A reputable piercing parlor should provide detailed instructions on how to prevent infection in the first place, but if an infection still occurs, it is vital that it is treated it as soon as possible because it is possible for an infection to be transmitted from the area of the nose piercing to the brain, causing serious complications.

The first step is ascertaining whether the person actually has an infected nose piercing or whether there is a different cause. Certain metals cause an irritation in some people who are sensitive to them, and this can be mistaken for an infection. If the jewelry in the piercing is made of gold, silver, titanium or any metal other than stainless steel, it should be taken out and replaced with a stainless steel piercing. Very few people are sensitive to this metal, and if the irritation stops, it likely just a bad reaction to the other type of metal.

If that step does not halt the irritation, it's likely the pierced area has become infected. In this case, it can be possible to stop the infection with a simple treatment using a sterile saline solution. These can be purchased over the counter from most pharmacies, or it can be made by using a spoonful of sea salt and hot water.

The saline solution should be applied to both the inside and the outside of the piercing with a cotton swab. Afterward, the infected area should be flushed out by running warm water over the piercing for 10 seconds. These steps should be repeated two to four times a day for a week.

If the infection doesn't heal after a week, it could require more serious treatment. A series of over-the-counter antibiotic treatments is usually enough to clean up any bacterial infection around the piercing. These are readily available in any pharmacy. Simply following the instructions on the product should clear up the infection.

If, after the antibiotics have been used, the infection still hasn't healed, it might require more advanced medical treatment. An infected nose piercing can, in very rare cases, have serious consequences, so medical care should be sought as soon as the severity of the infection becomes apparent. In these instances, the doctor usually will prescribe a more powerful series of antibiotics or suggest something else.

The use of rubbing alcohol is often recommended as a cleaning product in the case of an infected nose piercing. Alcohol is an effective disinfectant, but it also can cause further irritation by drying out the skin. For this reason, it should be avoided.

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Discussion Comments

By MrsPramm — On Jan 06, 2014

@irontoenail - It's especially important to go to a good place if you're getting a septum piercing. That really has to be done with a needle and even then it can go very wrong because of the blood vessels involved.

In fact, if you feel like you've got an infection in a septum piercing, I would get medical treatment for it immediately, because it can become serious fast. I know someone who got what she thought was a nose piercing infection in the septum but was actually a problem with the blood vessels and eventually lead to her developing a hole in her septum and changing the way her nose looked.

By irontoenail — On Jan 05, 2014

@Mor - In my experience if you go to a decent piercing place they will use stainless steel. I've only ever had an infection from my first body piercing when I was dumb enough to go to a piercing place in a mall that just used a stud gun rather than a proper needle and didn't give me any real aftercare instructions.

By Mor — On Jan 05, 2014

You really should use stainless steel in the first place. I know a good, high quality stud can be expensive, but it's worth it, especially in the first few weeks.

And you should leave it in until it heals. Unless it does get infected and you're advised to take it out. Because putting in multiple different studs is only going to increase the risk of being exposed to bacteria. And your nose is already a fairly easy place for that to happen. An infected nose ring is very unpleasant, so even if you are usually quite blase about this kind of thing you should try to be vigilant and do everything you can to prevent it.

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